Google Finally Unveils Major Social Initiatives

Published on June 28, 2011
by Liz Gannes

Google today launched a “limited field trial” of the long-in-the-works social initiatives it is now calling the Google+ project.

Google has been rolling out lots of little social products, but this is the first time it has bundled them into a sort of unified vision.

The new features are: Circles, a product that helps you segment friends, family, coworkers and other people into different groups; Sparks, a personalized content recommendation service; Hangouts, a video chat product; and Huddle, a group chat application.

Also: a new Google+ Android app contains an auto-upload feature that pushes content to the cloud. And a new toolbar will help users share content from any Google property.

Google had previously insisted to us this spring that it was not working on a social network called Circles. That does appear to be true by the letter of the launch, but the spirit of the new segmented feature is quite similar.

For more background on the development of the product, see Steven Levy’s extensive Wired piece.

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